The battle over Florida's constitutional gay marriage ban is a lot like a drawn-out arm wrestling match. Both sides are sweating, but the crowd seems to have lost interest in the show.
Right-wing loonies proposed the measure months ago and gathered thousands of signatures to put it on the ballot in November. Headlines and TV news about Amendment 2 have tapered off. But the money has been streaming in. Lots of it. As of last week, Florida Red & Blue, which is against the amendment, had raised more than $2 million in cash. That's more than four times what the competition, Florida4Marriage, has earned.
Leading the way for the good guys (can you guess which side we fall on?) are well-off Miami men such as Jon Kislack and Jonathan Lewis, who both contributed $50,000 to Florida Red & Blue. Kislack is straight and a Republican. He's also the chair of the committee — and totally open about his motivation. His daughter is a lesbian, lives in Rhode Island with her adopted son, and doesn't like visiting the homophobic Sunshine State. He wants to see his grandkid. "It's just not right that our laws, public policy, and social climate in Florida are so unwelcoming," he writes.
Philanthropist Donald Burns of West Palm Beach has made the highest single donation. He threw in $250,000. (Gratuitous pop culture reference: Burns owns the New York building where Heath Ledger overdosed.)
Miami's Williamson Cadillac Hummer dealership wins Riptide's Least Likely to Be a Queer Activist award. It pitched in $10,000 to Florida Red & Blue.
On the opposing side, there's Jacksonville-based W.W. Gay Mechanical Contractor, which spent $10,000 in cash to make sure gays don't wed. (Reckon it's time for a name change?)
Overall, the majority of Florida Red & Blue's money has come from individuals. Florida4Marriage's funds, on the other hand, are mostly via the Republican Party of Florida, which gave $300,000 of the total $492,969. "There just isn't a lot of support there to pass it," says Derek Newton, campaign manager for Florida Red & Blue.